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The Fifth Witness
Mickey Haller Series #5
Michael Connelly

Little Brown and Company
April 5, 2011/ ISBN 978-0316069359
Series Suspense

Reviewed by Elise Cooper

Michael Connelly’s latest novel, The Fifth Witness, is a courtroom drama from the perspective of defense attorney Mickey Haller. The story explores the mortgage crisis in America: people could not pay for homes they bought and could not sell them because their worth was less than what was owed; thus, banks foreclosed. Connelly masterly brings a dry subject to life starting with the opening scene where Haller shifts his practice to mortgage law, defending homeowners from bank foreclosures and having an office in the backseat of his Lincoln Towncar. The thriller takes off when a mortgage banker is murdered by one of Haller’s clients.

Besides the dramatic courtroom scenes Connelly informs the reader about a defense attorney’s strategy. He does this through Haller’s thoughts and his new associate, Jennifer “Bullocks” Aronson. It is interesting how he points out that a defense attorney’s goals are not to prove but to “plant the seeds of reasonable doubt,” and that “it is the defense’s job to take the miscues and mistakes of the investigation and ram them down the state’s throat.” Connelly even touches on the March, 2011 Supreme Court ruling, which held that prosecutors cannot be held liable for withholding exculpatory evidence or committing any Constitutional violations. Haller comments in the novel that “I guess it was a learned behavior seeing how the state has blindsided me at least twice so far with surprise evidence and questions about timing and chain of custody.”

Women play a dominant role in the story. Besides Aronson there is the defendant, Lisa Trammel, the prosecutor of the case, Andrea Freeman, and Haller’s two ex-wives, his secretary and prosecutor Maggie McFierce. Connelly fully develops all these characters, which allow the reader to get to know their diverse personalities in different scenarios from the courtroom to the bedroom.

It is interesting why Connelly specifically chose the setting in the Van Nuys Court house. He stated that “it is a very physical way of saying you are the underdog. It has a plaza with two courthouses, a police station, a city hall annex, and a federal building. All these gigantic things are lined up against you as a defense attorney.”

Connelly fans will definitely not be disappointed. Since this is the fourth book of the Mickey Haller series those interested in courtroom thrillers should definitely read all of these books. The question that the readers will ask throughout the books, “Is Haller a good guy or a bad guy?” The answer in the novel is that Haller is a defense attorney with a conscience even though he would like you to believe otherwise. This book has a lot of twists and turns which is what Connelly does best. The Fifth Witness is highly recommended since the reader will not want to put the book down with its riveting plot and captivating characters.

Reviews of other titles in this series

The Lincoln Lawyer #1 [book]  [audio]
The Brass Verdict
#2  (Haller / Bosch) [audio]
The Reversal # #3 (Haller / Bosch) [book]  [audio]
The Fifth Witness
#4 [book]  [audio]
The Gods of Guilt #5 [audio]
9 Dragons
[Bosch series/ Haller has small part]  [Audio ]


Reviewed 2011
© 2011